Mike Lantry, 1972
When the Under the Lights jersey design was released earlier this year, the hullabaloo, brouhaha, and hubbub was palpable and furious from one end of MGoBlog to the other. It even was quite MGoChic for a time to line up in rank and file on board post after board post as a running attendance of those that "Get It," vehemently opposing any alteration to the sacred home uniform. Granted, not everyone fell into this category. Yours truly and several other courageous souls braved this onslaught by staring straight down the barrel of banishment and mockery from the community simply to throw our voices into the fray- not for the smallest hope of prevailing glory or rationality- but rather because it was right. It was at this time too, friends, that the arrows of rebuke aimed at our Commander in Chief, David Brandon, began to reach a fever pitch with skepticism and paranoia reaching levels that had not been seen since Joseph McCarthy had been pacing the halls of this nations capital. The, well, mutiny of sorts, saw its escalation with endorsements from this blogs highest ranking officials including most notably, Brian (peace be upon him), while trickling down from there and eventually into the masses where it became a fundamental ideological principle and core tenet of those fighting to preserve the dignity and tradition of Michigan Football while halting the erosion of our identity by ravenous exploitationists that are literally scheming the corporatization of our very souls as we speak.
The outlook was dire, indeed, in those days. Our great general, Coach Hoke, had not yet led his troops into our hallowed battlefield where the ghosts of legends dwell and the smell of victory floats confidently in the air. We were reeling from 3 long years of famine and were anxiously awaiting our Michigan Moses to free us from bondage and lead us into Canaan. The Michigan we grew up knowing and loving was evaporating before our very eyes, and those dastardly jerseys (and night games to some) were the face of our eroding ideals and traditions.
Nevermind that Michigan has gone through dozens of uniforms in it's distinguished history, those damn jerseys with the ugly stripes and that phony looking old block M is taking it just too far dammit! My lawn. Get off it.
On September 10th 2011, at approximately 8 o'clock PM, our good old boys with their cotton' pickin' maize and blue hearts screamed out of that tunnel as they have so many times before, touched the banner, and prepared for battle all the while wearing that ghastly abomination in place of the sacred home uniforms. I don't need to bore you with the details here because you know what transpired. Michigan was pummeled by Notre Dame 50-0 and immediately released a statement after the game stating emphatically that from hence forth we, Michigan, shalt not wear legacy jerseys or participate in night games forever because it's always been better with out them and this was a huge mistake and we're sorry k thx bye.
The End. Things go back to normal and the Michigan of old is the Michigan of new again. Right?
Here friends, is where I humbly pose a question: What if?
What if our leadership isn't set on destroying us from the inside out?
What if they want to see the best for Michigan, even if that means making changes to Michigan?
What if they do actually care how we, the fans, students, and alumni, feel?
What if it was possible to respect traditions while also modernizing?
What if every change that's made wasn't contextualized as going to the heart of what it means to be Michigan? And isn't that a terribly confined view of what Michigan even is?
What if in being ambitious and thinking progressively we could still create moments that 50 years from now would be remembered as some of the greatest that ever happened?
And what if it looked something like this?: ***
Now, what if you never forget what happened on September 10, 2011? Was it worth it? Is Michigan any less Michigan-y now that we've played a night game with legacy jerseys?
OR what if in doing something like this, from the jerseys and the atmosphere to the actual play and coaching on the field, we saw an even truer picture of what Michigan is?
What I saw was that Michigan is unafraid to be the best. Michigan is unafraid to make history. Michigan sets the bar. Michigan isnt defined by it's past- but rather Michigan is defined by it's gall in conquering the present and it's aspiration to the future. Michigan might not always win, but Michigan doesn't back down to a challenge.
Friends, in my humble opinion that game could not have been more perfect. From the pageantry to the stadium renovations, to the uniforms, to unforgettable moments and to ripping out Notre Dame's heart yet again. Michigan put on one hell of a show and I'm damn proud to be a Michigan Wolverine today.
BUT: What if it never happened?
What if your no doubt cherished memories from that game were replaced with memories form a typical ND- UM game with an afternoon kickoff?
Would you be any worse off? Probably not. You wouldn't know any better and UM beats Notre Dame in alternate universes as well- but I do know this, you wouldn't be better for it. You wouldn't have the once in a lifetime experience and the memories to take. You wouldn't be able to tell everyone about it until the day you die. You wouldn't have been a part of this unique moment in history- a moment where history is made. Is that worth it? I guess that's up to you.
Finally: What if we do it again?
What if Michigan makes bold decisions in the future?
What if they're controversial and go against what you've come to know as your beloved Michigan?
Will you approach them with negativity and skepticism or will you look at them with eyes to see the possible good that may come from them? Will you reevaluate your rigid constructs of what Michigan is to you and realize that Michigan is bigger than you can comprehend and means different things to different people around the world and that no attempt to quantify or define it can be successful? I think you should and I hope you do. To keep Michigan the best sometimes means thinking outside the box and moving forward with thought and sense. Last night proved that it can be done well and it can be done right.
*** These moments brought to you by Dave Brandon pissing on Michigan tradition.